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23 April 2003, 09:53 am
Dalton to Head Team New Zealand
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Grant Dalton

America's Cup

Veteran sailor Grant Dalton will take over the running of Team New Zealand although the syndicate has not yet said if it will again challenge for the America's Cup.
Team New Zealand's trustees said today Dalton will fill the new role of managing director while Dean Barker retains the skipper's role.

The trustees did not say who will be appointed to the other new position they established, that of sailing director. Team New Zealand have been undergoing an internal review since their failed bid to defend the America's Cup this year when the Swiss team Alinghi beat them 5-0. Limited findings from that review will be released next month.

Dalton said today he believed Team New Zealand could mount a successful challenge in 2007 when Alinghi defends the Cup somewhere in Europe. "My immediate priority is to retain core people," Dalton said. "I have started this process and it should be completed within a few days."

As well as Barker, the other three members of Team New Zealand's management team for the 2003 defence will stay with the team. Former chief executive Ross Blackman will lead the business organisation while Tony Thomas will remain involved in fundraising. Syndicate head and key designer Tom Schnackenberg is also staying in the team, although Dalton has not said in what position.

Trustees spokesman Peter Menzies said they had undertaken a wide search for a person to lead the syndicate, and Dalton was the outstanding candidate. "His track record in major sailing events, his people leadership skills and his single minded drive will give Team New Zealand new direction and focus," Menzies said.

Dalton's task now was to complete a feasibility study into whether Team New Zealand can afford to challenge in Europe, with Alinghi yet to say where the next defence will be sailed.

It is expected to cost at least $150 million to mount a European bid, about twice that spent on the failed defence. The Government has already pledged $5.6 million for the team, and may contribute more funding if a challenge goes ahead.

The lack of a figurehead leader to replace the murdered former syndicate head Sir Peter Blake has been considered one of the problems of the last campaign.

Dalton has an extensive record in offshore racing, although not America's Cup racing. He was involved in New Zealand's first 1986-1987 challenge, but did not make the final sailing team. He has sailed in several round-the-world races, winning on New Zealand Endeavour in 1993-1994.

Ironically he was linked to a leadership role in Team New Zealand's last campaign, with the former trustees suggesting him as syndicate head as their talks with former skipper Russell Coutts became increasingly difficult.

New Zealand Herald
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